Matthew And The Atlas rolled into town and Getintothis’ Edward Feery witnessed a revelatory night at Studio 2.
As convivial venues go, Liverpool can’t boast many better than Studio 2 – especially on a freezing February night.
‘It’s nice to be in Liverpool,’ support act Rhain tells us as she arrives, ‘I haven’t been here in… lots!’
Her Bjork-like mix of stripped-back piano, acrobatic vocals and twisting, intricate lyrics – not to mention her disarming stage presence – soon hold a reverent audience spell-bound.
She seems to prefer a slightly rowdier group, though; ‘You’re very quiet,’ she whispers at one point; ‘…it’s making me nervous!’
The lights dim before Matthew And The Atlas take to the stage and launch into the title track of new album Temple. Matthew Hegarty’s voice, equal parts warmth and wear, rings out across the room at the heart of soaring harmonies and driving rock.
The band are tight and lively, bringing that indefinable extra quality to their performance that elevates the best live bands. It helps that the crowd are, to a soul, devotees – and at the same time, it’s not hard to see why. This is their second Liverpool gig in less than a year.
Matthew And The Atlas aren’t afraid to change things up; drummer James steps aside for a long stretch that showcases the group’s folkier side, including a revelatory Modern World.
This, and the instrument-swapping bandmates Tommy, Alex and Emma engage in, might kill a lesser band’s set yet they keep the intensity going in their quieter moments, only to ramp it up a level when a full band again.
Having barely spoken to the audience throughout the set, Matthew seems genuinely moved when he gives a heartfelt ‘thank you’ before the final song.
The crowd aren’t leaving it there, though, and the quintet don’t disappoint – stepping into the audience for a haunting unplugged Come Out Of The Woods, before ending on a delirious I Will Remain that sends their audience dancing out into the dreary night .
Photos by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan